Coffee Makes You Live Longer

Yet another study that confirms my pre-existing biases.

Business Insider (“People who drink coffee every day are less likely to die early than non-coffee drinkers, research suggests“):

Your daily coffee habit may help you live a longer, healthier life, even if you add sugar, according to a study recently published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers from Southern Medical University in Guangzhou, China, looked at data on coffee habits and health from more than 171,000 residents of the UK, who didn’t have cancer or
heart disease
at the start of the study, over a period of seven years.

Previously, evidence has suggested coffee drinkers live longer — the researchers in China aimed to test whether that was true even when people add sugar to their daily brew.

They found that people who regularly drank unsweetened coffee were 16-21% less likely to die during the study than their peers who didn’t drink coffee.

And study participants who drank between one and four cups of lightly sweetened coffee per day were 29-31% less likely to die during the study, according to the data.

Outcomes were less clear, the researchers found, for participants who used artificial sweeteners, which have seen similarly mixed results in previous research. Some experts and evidence say these products can be a safe, healthy swap for sugar, according to the Mayo Clinic, while others raise concerns about possible associations with cancer or metabolic health issues.

However, the evidence doesn’t necessarily endorse highly sugary coffee drinks as healthy, according to an accompanying editorial by Harvard professor Dr. Christina Wee on Southern Medical University’s study. Participants added about a teaspoon of sugar per cup, on average, which much less than the amount of sweetener typically found in prepared or blended coffee drinks.

The findings are supported by previous evidence that coffee is generally beneficial for longevity, no matter how you drink it.

Coffee — and its main ingredient, caffeine — has been extensively studied, with a wealth of data suggesting it’s not only safe in moderation, but good for your health.

Previous studies suggest coffee drinkers live longer because they have a lower risk of illnesses like heart disease, cancer, and

Caffeine can also increase mental focus and also benefit brain health, particularly as we age, and appears to be linked to a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease. The beverage is also tied to a lower risk of depression and suicide.

You can have too much caffeine, however. Doses of more than 400 milligrams of caffeine (more than about four to five cups of coffee) can cause minor side effects like anxiety, jitters, rapid heart rate, and sweating, according to the Mayo Clinic.

I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have coffee and I’m still alive, so this appears to be true. Indeed, I’m fast approaching the point where dying an “early death” will be impossible. And it’s been years since I took mine with sugar, so I should live forever.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I certainly love my wife longer after a shot of espresso.

  2. James Joyner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That was a great typo but I’ve fixed it.

  3. Michael Reynolds says:

    I will smack shit out of anyone who debunks this.

  4. Kathy says:

    I can’t remember the last day I didn’t have coffee and I’m still alive

    I think this is why Oscar Wilde labored so much over commas…

    Anyway, I can remember the last day I didn’t have coffee. It was when I was released from the hospital after surgery. I had no coffee at all for three days (and still managed not to sleep much).

  5. Jax says:

    Correction….coffee makes the people around me live longer. 😛

  6. Kathy says:


    Ah, you just have to learn to take the side effects with the benefits.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Joyner: Awwww… I has a sad. 😉

  8. Joe says:


    You can have too much caffeine, however.

    Wait? What?

  9. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Joe: I drink coffee (mostly the bad kind–decaf 😉 ) only about once or twice a week and I’m even older than you. Additionally, I have asthma (life long), COPD, and Afib and am still plugging away. I suspect that if we really evaluated what these studies show, it would be that people who are genetically disposed to living longer and have access to good health care live longere–possibly even in the absence of coffee and red wine consumption. In the third world, the correlation is probably that people who get sick less live longer.

    Now that I’ve done my work and rained on everybody’s parade, I can move on.

  10. reid says:

    Very good. Can we sic these people on the obvious life-prolonging benefits of alcohol consumption now? Those are my two beverage groups.

  11. CSK says:

    Coffee and vodka martinis…they never let you down.

  12. Mr. Prosser says:

    I got the coffee desires in the Navy. There wasn’t a work space aboard or on land that didn’t have a big coffee maker on hand. Even in the Mekong Delta coffee was there on the river patrol bases. Coffee came in big square tins that looked like the tins one bought Linseed Oil in for redwood home patios. The only drawback was the coffee was tied in with cigarettes, ah the morning first cup and first smoke of the day.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mr. Prosser: ah the morning first cup and first smoke of the day.

    I still get that early AM coffee but damn, I do miss the sunrise cigarette.

  14. Rick DeMent says:


    Coffee and vodka martinis…they never let you down.

    The poor man’s speedball.

  15. CSK says:

    @Rick DeMent:
    The smart man’s speedball.

  16. Mister Bluster says:
  17. dazedandconfused says:

    Rounds of Irish coffee, for those times when you really need a room full of alert drunks.

  18. sam says:

    When we lived in Mass, my wife worked for doctor at Mass General. He had patients from all over, one of whom was from Brazil. Every time the man came to see the doc, he’d bring mywife three packages of Brazilian coffee. How that man was allowed in the country without having to declare he was bringing in packages of gold I will never understand.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @sam: Every time I traveled in the Sierra Gorda in Mexico, I brought back a few kilos of coffee. Not as good as some from other places, but way better than Folgers.

  20. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Well, as you can attest, my coffee consumption may not help me live longer, but it certainly improves the longevity of those around me!

    Besides, I’ve cut way back over the years. I’m down to a solution of 1 liter of filtered water plus 70 grams of Turkish ground coffee per day. Plus 3-4 espressos. About 1/4 of my youthful consumption.

  21. Flat Earth Luddite says:

    @Flat Earth Luddite:
    Pardon me, I meant infusion, not solution. Cold brew leaves me cold. (Pardon me, I’ll slink back to my cave now)

  22. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I used to say that I could solve the national smoking problem if I could invent a cigarette which tasted as bad first thing in the morning as that last one I smoked at night.